Quinn Welsch and Garrett Cabeza
Masked and uniformed members of a right-wing group were arrested in Coeur d’Alene on Saturday afternoon, the same day as Pride in the Park was scheduled, police said.
Coeur d’Alene police said 31 people from all over the country who were inside a U-Haul were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to riot. Only one was from Idaho, police said, with others from Washington, Arkansas, Texas and Wyoming.
The people arrested were from a group called the Patriot Front, police said.
Patriot Front is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “a white nationalist hate group” that broke off from a similar far-right group after the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.
“Patriot Front focuses on theatrical rhetoric and activism that can be easily distributed as propaganda for its chapters across the country,” the Southern Poverty Law Center said of the group.
The group has a manifesto that calls for the formation of a white ethnostate in the United States, according to the center. Their brand of activism often consists of posting flyers and other advertisements in public places that promote an extremist brand of patriotism.
A video circulating on Facebook showed Idaho law enforcement officers opening the U-Haul moving truck filled with the apparent protesters. Another video also showed the men on their knees with their hands behind their backs, surrounded by police officers in tactical gear.
The men wore outfits similar to those typical for Patriot Front: khaki pants, blue shirts, masks and baseball caps.
Photos show some of the men wearing shirts that read, “RECLAIM AMERICA,” while one said, “Conquerors not Thieves,” an apparent reference to the belief that white colonialists were within their rights to take Native American lands.
Tensions were already simmering for the city’s LGBTQ rally because of a nearby event that some perceived as a protest.
Coeur d’Alene police said they didn’t have any “verifiable information” that groups were coming to the city to “engage in riotous conduct.”
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